Volume 11, Issue 7

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hot Topics

The America's Promise Alliance released its Building a Grad Nation report and hosted its accompanying summit in Washington, D.C, bringing together an impressive group of the nation's foremost advocates in education. The Grad Nation campaign seeks to end the high school dropout crisis, in a time when one in four public school students drops out before the end of high school, by improving the education system throughout. NIEER's Director Steve Barnett spoke on the panel Getting a Jump on a Grad Nation: How Early Childhood Education Puts our Children on the Path to Success.

Earlier this month, a new study arrived on the scene showing that when parents engage their toddlers in cognitively stimulating play such as pretend play, it can have long-lasting effects on their children's academic success. The 15-year longitudinal study's results, published in Family Science, found that such parental interaction when children were as young as 2 years old (as observed with 229 children in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project) predicted fifth grade math and reading achievement. This builds on years of research, as compiled in this article at Psychology Today, showing that imaginative play is a critical part of healthy child development, particularly for cognitive and social development.

Common wisdom tells us that a bad night's sleep could lead to cranky behavior the following day. But a new study suggests that a lack of restful sleep can have far-reaching negative outcomes. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the University of Michigan analyzed data on children and their sleep patterns, following them from 6 months to 7 years of age. Children who engaged in problematic behaviors at ages 4 and 7 had also displayed sleep disorders, such as apnea and mouth breathing, at earlier ages. After accounting for other factors, children with sleep disorders were 40 to 100 percent more likely than their peers to exhibit behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, aggression, and anxiety and depression.

"Previous studies suggesting a possible connection between SDB [sleep-disordered breathing] symptoms and subsequent behavioral problems weren't definitive, since they included only small numbers of patients, short follow-ups of a single SDB symptom, or limited control of variables such as low birth weight that could skew the results. But this study shows clearly that SDB symptoms do precede behavioral problems and strongly suggests that SDB symptoms are causing those problems," said Ronald Chervin, one of the study's authors. Findings from the study are published in Pediatrics.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER's Shannon Riley-Ayers and Judi Stevenson-Boyd discuss the soon-to-be released assessment tool, the Early Learning Scale.


This report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the LIFE Center at the University of Washington contains case studies on families engaging in multi-generational conversations and learning around media, with an eye on newer digital products.

This policy brief from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) analyzes data to describe the state of the federal Head Start program, including changes and trends since CLASP last published analysis of Head Start data in 2006.

NIEER Activities

With The State of Preschool 2011 – NIEER's latest in a series of annual reports on state-funded pre-K – slated for release next month, make sure to keep abreast of all the up-to-the-minute news on Facebook and Twitter. For our readers on Twitter, join the conversation about The State of Preschool 2011 by using the hashtag #preK2011.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 3:30pm

This webinar will focus on the early foundations of mathematics, including discussion of effective coaching models and research-based curricula and assessment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 to Saturday, March 31, 2012

Washington, DC - This conference will challenge attendees to consider how to provide a positive childhood experience for the youth of the world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 to Saturday, March 31, 2012

Clearwater Beach, FL - This event brings together experts from around the country who present workshops offering practical information on social-emotional development.

Thursday, April 12, 2012 to Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dublin, Ireland - This conference will provide participants with the opportunity to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion about the development of Froebel's educational philosophy.

Monday, April 16, 2012 to Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nashville, TN - This annual conference will feature valuable sessions for all those who work to ensure vulnerable children and families have what they need to succeed in school and life.

Monday, April 30, 2012 to Thursday, May 3, 2012

Greensboro, NC - This conference provides professional development for early care and education leaders dedicated to improving access to and the quality of early childhood programs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012 to Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wheeling, IL - This conference provides professional development for early childhood leaders, offering opportunities to validate their work and also explore new and innovative ways to lead successfully.

Monday, May 14, 2012 to Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chapel Hill, NC – At this conference, participants will learn the latest research findings related to inclusive policy, professional development, and practice.

Sunday, June 10, 2012 to Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Indianapolis, IN - The goal of this conference is to deepen participants' understanding of the expanding early childhood knowledge base and develop skills that improve professional practice.

Monday, June 18, 2012 to Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tallinn, Estonia - This conference will explore research on children's need for undirected time and space for play.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 to Thursday, June 21, 2012

New York, NY – Join caregivers, teachers, family child care providers, trainers, special educators, librarians, and others for this three-day institute.

Sunday, July 15, 2012 to Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baltimore, MD – The theme of The CAYL Institute's conference is "What Really Works? Impact and Innovation for Young Learners."

Early Education News Roundup

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
(The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA)

Bills aimed at organizing a wide range of early childhood education and child care centers, implanting academic standards and assigning grades so parents can judge their quality made it through the full Senate and a House committee Wednesday.

Monday, March 19, 2012
(The Richmond Register, Richmond, KY)

Being able to follow three- to four-step instructions is one of the skills a child should have when entering kindergarten, according to the Madison County Schools Kindergarten Readiness Checklist, which is supported by the state's early childhood standards.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
(Learning Curve blog at The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN)

So, why isn't preschool a priority? There is ample evidence of its effectiveness – not just from educators, but from economists at the Federal Reserve and MIT.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
(The Daily Journal, San Mateo, CA)

Whether or not children who turn 5 late this year will start school in the fall is still in limbo after the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance rejected the governor's plan to cut funding Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
(WKZO, Kalamazoo, MI)

Head Start faces more performance pressure than ever before as federal and local budget woes escalate.

Monday, March 12, 2012
(Ludington Daily News, Ludington, MI)

Reps. Ray Franz and Jon Bumstead and Sen. Goeff Hansen listened to parents, teachers and other school personnel as well while taking notes and preparing for a start at the next fiscal year budget.